The PM pops up in a summit for “democracy” – but we wonder if she grasps her dilemma when she also favours “partnership”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – we were heartened to learn – has participated in the Summit for Democracy, hosted by United States President Joe Biden.

This was a “virtual” summit and (it so happens) “virtual” means “almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition”.

This fairly well describes this country’s democracy under a government which is tempted to make “democracy” subordinate to Treaty” considerations.  

In  a guest post earlier this year, political commentator Barrie Saunders cautioned: 

At present New Zealand has a quality democracy.   We have fairly-drawn electorates, an easy voting system, and a reasonable level of political literacy.  Money struggles to buy Government policy, which is all as it should be. 

However, we have no reason to be smug, because this democracy is under threat. Governments since 1987 and the Courts have been entrenching a modern view that the Treaty of Waitangi means there is an ongoing “partnership between the Government and Iwi”.

The post was headlined:  Democracy or partnership – which do we want, because we can’t have both? Continue reading “The PM pops up in a summit for “democracy” – but we wonder if she grasps her dilemma when she also favours “partnership””

If the world misses its climate change target, we won’t have to worry too much about checking the housing target in 436 years

Latest from the Beehive

Remember the Government’s former flagship housing policy for the 2017 general election and its initial target of 100,000 homes in 10 years?

In May last year, the Dom-Post published a progress report under the heading KiwiBuild will take more than 400 years to reach original target

The report said:

The number of KiwiBuild homes built to date stood at 393 at the end of March, equating to roughly 19 homes built each month since the scheme began in June 2018.

At that rate it would take 436 years to complete the remaining 99,607 houses that remain from the 100,000 target.

We were reminded of this while monitoring the latest Beehive announcements, which included  a bold climate change target:

New Zealand will significantly increase its contribution to the global effort to tackle climate change by reducing net greenhouse emissions by 50 percent by 2030, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced today on the eve of the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.

 The statement explained that Under the Paris Agreement, each country adopts an international target known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). This sets out the contribution the country will make towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. Continue reading “If the world misses its climate change target, we won’t have to worry too much about checking the housing target in 436 years”

Govt welcomes $7.5bn investment – from the private sector – in our digital economy, but ministers are busy spending, too

The government has been spending money on ridding parts of the country of predators, cleaning up contaminated sites, helping NCEA students and researching cancer.

But ministers of the crown – it’s pleasing to note – are acknowledging big-bucks investments from the private sector, too.

Digital Economy and Communications Minister today welcomed the decision by Amazon’s cloud-computing arm, Amazon Web Services’ (AWS), to establish a Cloud Region on New Zealand shores, further boosting New Zealand’s growing digital sector and providing a vote of confidence in the direction of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

The investment is estimated to be around $7.5 billion, which “demonstrates the high level of confidence the international business community has in backing New Zealand’s economy,” Clark enthused.

We learned more about this project from Stuff, which reports that AWS will spend $7.5 billion over 15 years building “world class computing infrastructure” in Auckland .

Amazon Web Services New Zealand country manager Tim Dacombe-Bird said New Zealand would join 25 other territories in which the company had established cloud computing data centres.

The company would build “a cluster” of at least three data centres in the city, he said.

AWS estimated the investment would create 1000 jobs and contribute $10.8b to New Zealand’s GDP over the next 15 years.

Back in the capital, Clark’s ministerial colleagues have been busy spending state-sector money, which is the stuff they collect from taxpayers or borrow, according to our latest monitoring of The Beehive website. Continue reading “Govt welcomes $7.5bn investment – from the private sector – in our digital economy, but ministers are busy spending, too”

Flaws are found in a tool used for cleaning up waterways and preparing farm plans – but govt is on the case for improvements

Farm leaders are furious – with good cause – after a report by a panel of scientists found fault with the farm nutrient modelling system Overseer.

The panel cited “overarching structural problems” with the system, which has become one of the country’s main farm pollution-management tools, and concluded it could not be confident in Overseer’s ability to estimate nitrogen loss from farms.

Overseer  is a software tool developed in this country to measure farm nutrient dynamics.

It is used by councils all over New Zealand as the basis for granting consents, checking compliance and enforcement against farmers and for estimating on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

The Overseer intellectual property is jointly owned by the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Fertiliser Association of NZ and AgResearch. The intellectual property is exclusively licensed to Overseer Ltd, which is owned by the Fertiliser Association of NZ and AgResearch.

Now that its usefulness for regulatory purposes and as a nutrient management tool has been undermined, there is an urgent need for a more credible tool to be developed – and the Ardern team is on the case.

Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor have acknowledged the science panel’s findings of shortcomings in Overseer nutrient management tool and say –

  • The government will support the development of a next generation Overseer alongside a suite of tools to help in the management and estimation of on-farm nutrient loss
  • Over the next year, Overseer will be supported while a next generation of the tool is developed and/or additional tools are made available
  • A more accurate way to estimate nutrient loss is important for farmers, the environment and brand New Zealand.

Continue reading “Flaws are found in a tool used for cleaning up waterways and preparing farm plans – but govt is on the case for improvements”

Not all the millions offered by the Ardern govt have been accepted – let’s see how it fares with new law on aversion therapy

Several million dollars have been dished out for projects to build schools, control wilding pine control and what-have-you.

Nurses – on the other hand – have turned down the money they were offered.

In their case,  Health Minister Andrew Little is obviously bemused and frustrated.  

He was advised last night that Nurses Organisation members had voted to reject the latest proposal to settle their collective agreement.

“Let me be clear: the proposal was one they put to the Government. The Nurses Organisation rejected their own proposal,” he huffed this morning. 

We don’t expect the rejection of these announcements: Continue reading “Not all the millions offered by the Ardern govt have been accepted – let’s see how it fares with new law on aversion therapy”

Woods scores a new portfolio (apparently) while the Govt gives Wallabies a free pass through our Covid defences

We were reminded yesterday of an article published by The Spinoff on 1 August last year headed Megan Woods, the minister for everything.

The article referred to her “slew of portfolios”.

It kicked off by saying Woods’ public profile

“… has exploded thanks to her new role as the minister in charge of border isolation and quarantine, but Megan Woods has long been known as the most reliable pair of hands in government.”

After the election Woods was appointed Minister of Housing, Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, as well as Associate Minister of Finance.

As Housing Minister, she was keen to inform us yesterday about how she and her government are keeping people warm.  And today she made an announcement as Minister of …

Well, see for yourself: Continue reading “Woods scores a new portfolio (apparently) while the Govt gives Wallabies a free pass through our Covid defences”

Oh, look – we can’t find any mention of “ISIS” in PM’s press statement on bringing woman and her children back from Turkey

The Turks don’t want her, after she crossed the border into that country from Syria.

The Aussies don’t want her, even though her family moved to Australia when she was six and she grew up there before departing for Syria in 2014 on an Australian passport. They cancelled her citizenship.

But she had dual citizenship and – we are told – New Zealand is unable to remove citizenship from a person and leave them stateless.

Unable?  Or morally disinclined to leave them stateless?

And would a government less committed to wellbeing and kindliness make the same decision?

Never mind.  In the upshot, the decision has been made and the woman and her family will be coming to live in this country.

Should we be worried?

The word “ISIS” did not appear in the PM’s press statement,  which was blandly headed Cabinet accepts Turkish authorities’ request for the managed return of three NZ citizens.

Nor was the woman named.   Continue reading “Oh, look – we can’t find any mention of “ISIS” in PM’s press statement on bringing woman and her children back from Turkey”

The debt isn’t an issue et, so let’s spend more on Auckland schools and forego some income from road user charges

While questions were being raised about a longer-term issue – the sustainability of the government’s debt – the government was busy (a) spending more money on Auckland schools and (b) foregoing some of the income it collects from road user charges.

It was also introducing legislation that will establish new co-governance arrangements, enabling a Maori tribe to sit with local government leaders in deciding on this, that and the other for the community.

The Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill, the legislation that will settle Ngāti Maru’s historic Treaty of Waitangi claims, provides for Taranaki Regional Council and Te Kāhui Maru Trust: Te Iwi o Maruwharanui (the Ngāti Maru post-settlement governance entity) to enter into a joint management agreement in respect of the Waitara River and its catchment.

This will include a role for the tribe in the environmental monitoring of the Waitara River, emulating a raft of treaty settlements which include co-governance entitlements.

A press statement announcing the first reading of the bill was among the latest statements and speeches posted on The Beehive website since we last reported on the doings of our ministers.

One of the statements advised that $6.5 million is being earmarked to help schools meet unexpected costs arising from the February 2021 regional Alert Level 3 restrictions. Continue reading “The debt isn’t an issue et, so let’s spend more on Auckland schools and forego some income from road user charges”

APEC leaders learn about waka and Aucklanders hear it cost $30m to encourage walking and cycling on just one street

We confess to being bemused by some of the latest Beehive announcements and pronouncements.

Auckland became a harbour of waka, in the PM’s remarks to APEC leaders who – we suspect – might not know what a waka looks like.

Then there are moves afoot to protect us – from what?

To protect us from what we might read, view or hear, it transpires.

Less puzzling was news of Government tax proposals that – it is sure – will dampen investor demand for existing houses and so bring down house prices.

“The proposals we are releasing today will help to achieve that goal,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.  

His confidence is admirable.

Oh, and we learned how much it has cost – $30 million – to widen the footpaths of Karangahape Road and reduce the roadway to discourage emission-spewing motor vehicles by establishing cycle paths.

Nurses, meanwhile, are bridling against their  pay … Continue reading “APEC leaders learn about waka and Aucklanders hear it cost $30m to encourage walking and cycling on just one street”

We should brace for the boiler ban – but $22.88m has been handed out to help businesses decarbonise

Our Beehive bulletin

The Government’s ban on new low and medium temperature coal-fired boilers and partnering with the private sector to help it transition away from fossil fuels perhaps ranked as the most important Beehive announcement yesterday.

It was the first major announcement to follow the release of the Climate Commission’s draft package of advice to Government in February and was accompanied by the distribution of dollops of corporate welfare to  the successful applicants in round one of the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund.

Fourteen companies will receive $22.88m in co-funding to help their businesses transition away from fossil fuels.

The ban on new coal boilers used in manufacturing and production will come into effect by 31 December.

A consultation document for other coal proposals can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

The energy announcement was one of several to emerge during a busy day in the Beehive, many of them enabling Ministers to bray about the big bucks (or small ones) they were throwing around. Continue reading “We should brace for the boiler ban – but $22.88m has been handed out to help businesses decarbonise”